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Tulane Green Wave

USF Scores Late to Doom Wave

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CLEARWATER, Fla. – Hunter Hope and Jarret DeHart homered for Tulane, but USF scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to win, 7-6, in the first-round of the American Athletic Conference Championship Tuesday at Spectrum Field.

Hope's two-run homer was part of a three-run fourth inning that put the Green Wave (27-30) ahead, 3-0. After the Bulls (41-15) tied it in the bottom of the fourth, DeHart hit a three-run homer in the fifth to make the score 6-3. USF scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, before adding two runs in the eighth.

Corey Merrill gutted through six innings in the start, and was relieved by Chase Solesky (5-3), who took the loss for the Wave. USF reliever Andrew Perez (6-2) earned the win after two innings in relief, and Joe Cavallaro picked up his fifth save.

"We had some opportunities. We had some guys in the right spot in the right situations, and we just weren't quite able to cash through, whether it was offensively or defensively," Tulane head coach Travis Jewett said. "We took a lead into that last inning, but we made a couple of misplays and they caught us. We couldn't ask for a better situation, with the Co-Player of the Year at the plate with the tying run at second and the winning run at first, and I don't think anybody would trade that situation. We had the right guys in the right spots and the players fought all the way to the end, but we just didn't come out on top."

After managing one hit through the first three innings – on a Grant Witherspoon single to left field in the second – the Green Wave strung together four two-out hits in the fourth. Grant Brown extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a double that bounded through the infield and rolled to the warning track in left center, and scored on Witherspoon's infield single behind second base. Witherspoon beat out the throw from short, and Brown never stopped running from second to give the Wave a 1-0 lead.

Hope then launched his 13th home run of the season with a shot to left field to make the score 3-0. Jake Willsey followed with a double that landed on the chalk down the right field line for Tulane's fourth straight hit, but a looping liner was caught at short to end the inning.

USF tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning on a two-out three-run home run by Chris Chatfield, which followed a leadoff walk and a one-out single.

Tulane responded immediately in the top of the fifth to retake the lead. Kaplan drew a one-out walk and Williams lined a single into center field, before DeHart blasted his 13th home run of the season near the top of the berm in right center field to make the score 6-3. DeHart and Hope lead the Wave with 13 homers apiece.

USF cut it to 6-5 with a solo home run by David Villar in the fifth and an RBI single by Villar in the sixth. In the eighth, a spinning grounder to the pitcher by Kevin Merrell led off the inning, and Duke Stunkel doubled to score Merrell tie the game. A walk put runners at first and second, and a hard grounder got past third base for an error that allowed the runner to score from second and make the score 7-6, USF.

The Green Wave started a two-out rally in the top of the ninth, when Matt Rowland drew a two-out pinch-hit walk, and Kaplan singled off the pitcher's foot, but a flyout to deep left field ended the game.

Tulane kept the Bulls scoreless through three frames with the help of a pair of double plays, raising the team total to 64 on the season. A walk and a double in the first inning placed runners at second and third with one out. Willsey caught a pop up in center field, then threw home to Paul Gozzo, who charged at the runner between second and third, and threw to Sal Gozzo, who spun and hurled it to Merrill at the plate to complete an unconventional 4-2-6-1 double play to end the inning. With the bases loaded and one out in the third after a pair of walks and a double, Merrill induced a traditional 4-6-3 double play to snuff the threat.

The Green Wave totaled 11 hits – the fifth time in the last six games they have tallied at least 10 hits – and issued nine walks with five strikeouts and an error. The Bulls tallied 10 hits with 10 strikeouts and three walks. Kaplan, Williams and Witherspoon all finished with two hits for the Wave. Kaplan tallied multiple hits for the fourth straight game.

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